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April 8, 2016

This may seem intuitively obvious, but when you are planning to acquire new material handling equipment, it is important to properly define your application requirements. As obvious as it may seem, people often fall into the trap of arbitrarily inflating their specifications with the direct consequence that they overpay by selecting equipment they don’t need! Here are several suggestions to follow when considering new material handling equipment.

1. Product is king

In material handling, product is king. Equipment suppliers need to develop an excellent understanding of what you are conveying. This allows them to evaluate what can and cannot be done with your product, to select optimal solutions, reduce your costs and maximize your line’s performance. Ensuring that your material handling supplier understands your product may be the single most important thing to accomplish during your purchasing process.

2. Take the time to gather data

There is no doubt that you are the expert at producing widgets. You know what size they are, how much they weigh and how fast you can produce them. Your equipment supplier needs to know this information too—it is the cornerstone of selecting the best equipment for your application. You may be surprised to learn that it can be difficult for a supplier to obtain this information once the selection process starts.

Take time to document what you are handling. List product sizes, weights and production rates. Avoid listing these factors as ranges, which can lead your supplier to suggest equipment based on worst-case scenarios that don’t even exist! As an example of what to avoid, don’t assume the maximum weight for the smallest product in a range.

3. Resist the urge

We all want robust equipment that can handle a little more than we ask of it. For this reason, many customers have a tendency to arbitrarily inflate product weights and/or production rates. While this may seem like a good idea, conscientious suppliers always add their own safety factors to your requirement, to guarantee that equipment will perform at the highest level. If you give your supplier inflated data you’ll select unnecessarily expensive equipment.

Always provide suppliers with accurate, non-inflated product information. If you want peace of mind about capacity for future growth, list your desired future growth as a separate item. This avoids overestimating equipment needs.

4. Remove the equipment blindfold

Too many customers begin the process of acquiring new material handling equipment by assuming they know what they want. They make this mistake by focusing on the type of equipment they want rather than on what they are trying to accomplish. Material handling is a dynamic industry, with new and innovative solutions entering the market every day. By focusing on equipment you have purchased in the past or that you know exists, you lose a valuable opportunity for suppliers to educate you about new technologies that may improve your operation’s performance and may be more economical.

Acquiring new material handling equipment is a very important step for any organization that wants better workflow and increased productivity. As is often the case, the first step of a process can be the most important: Take your first step wisely, by defining your application requirements accurately.

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